Until now I’ve kept my thoughts on the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the comments sections of the various update diaries. Today’s topic of discussion appears to be an attempt to suss out an “off ramp” for Vladimir Putin in which he gets to save face and hold on to his power…
Most of the solutions being presented today look an awful lot like the scenario I proposed on day one of the war:
This whole thing isn’t making much sense to me, or maybe it’s starting to, idk… Putin doesn’t seem to have much chance of taking all of Ukraine.
He might be solidifying his hold on the Donbas region while he has Ukrainians fighting on all fronts with the intent of pulling back and keeping what he really wanted all along.
At that point he can switch to diplomacy and try to play like he was a peacemaker all along.Good luck with that — the only chance I see for this to work for Putin is if he (i) manages to get the Ukrainian government to surrender totally or (ii) somehow captures them and installs a fake puppet government within the next 36-48 hours. After doing that, he will need to get the inhabitants of the expanded region of Luhansk and Donetsk to be OK with becoming instant citizens of a new, non-democratic nation under Russian control. Finally, he will need to magically convince the West to roll the sanctions back.I don’t think that’s within the realm of reasonable possibility, and I think there is a nonzero chance he’s going to crash and burn spectacularly.
I’ve been trying to figure out Putin’s cost benefit analysis… If he comes out of this larger conflict with solid control of the separatist regions (the areas he declared independent republics) he’ll attempt to portray himself as a hero and a liberator.It doesn’t look to me like he’s serious in his proclamation to “denazify and demilitarize” Ukraine… He should have accomplished much of that through the use of covert operations already. He seems to be stretching the Ukrainians out on multiple fronts while he’s achieving his true objectives…Take this with a grain of salt, I’m just spitballing here.
If the current Ukrainian government manages to survive the immediate crisis, Putin’s other accomplishments will have been to (i) kickstart a real unified sense of Ukrainian identity among everyone who lives through this, (ii) demonstrate to everyone that Putin and the Russian Army aren’t unstoppable juggernauts, (iii) motivate the Ukrainians to turn their country into a truly hard nut to crack militarily even without NATO (and similarly motivate the West to give them whatever help they need to do that), (iv) probably greatly accelerate Ukraine’s entry into NATO (and perhaps Finland and Sweden as well), and (v) finally cause the US to get serious about the problems we face with Putin screwing around in US politics and social media.I don’t think all that combined results in Putin coming out ahead overall.
I think PeterHug was right at the time and his comments should guide our thinking moving forward. Putin cannot safely pull back at this point. An emboldened and motivated Ukraine supported by the west shouldn’t let Putin keep one square millimeter of sovereign Ukrainian territory.
From my perspective Putin is a terrorist. He’s trying to terrorize the entire world with nuclear destruction if he doesn’t get what he wants. If I recall correctly we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Terrorism only works if we allow ourselves to be terrorized. I don’t see any need to be.
The longer the war in Ukraine drags on, the more sure I feel that Vladimir Putin will not resort to the use of nuclear weapons. He’s got nothing to gain and everything to lose… Mutual Assured Destruction is a no win game.
This entire escapade reminds this cold warrior of a similar situation that came as a shock and surprise to the whole world.
Nearly twenty-five years ago (30 now…PJH), the Soviet Union pulled its last troops out of Afghanistan, ending more than nine years of direct involvement and occupation. The USSR entered neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, attempting to shore up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. In short order, nearly 100,000 Soviet soldiers took control of major cities and highways. Rebellion was swift and broad, and the Soviets dealt harshly with the Mujahideen rebels and those who supported them, leveling entire villages to deny safe havens to their enemy. Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Iran, Pakistan, China, and the United States. In the brutal nine-year conflict, an estimated one million civilians were killed, as well as 90,000 Mujahideen fighters, 18,000 Afghan troops, and 14,500 Soviet soldiers.
In less than a month the Russian Army has suffered almost 1/3 that number of casualties…
The breakdown of the Soviet Union surprised most scholars of international relations, comparative politics, and Soviet politics. Existing explanations attribute the breakdown of the Soviet Union to the reformist leadership of Gorbachev, and/or to systemic factors. These explanations do not focus on the key contribution of the war in Afghanistan. This is surprising since many scholars view wars as key causal factors in empire breakdown and regime change.
“The story of Ukrainian-Russian tensions go all the way back to the rapid and unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union,” said Zubok.
A lasting solution, he says, “would require a fundamental change of regime, either in Russia or in Ukraine, and I don’t see any preconditions for either development.”
That was published back in late December. I think sanctions have altered conditions considerably…
Make no mistake. Russians know what is happening to Ukraine. Russians have learned about this outrageous assault on the life and people of Ukraine from their phones despite an ongoing propaganda campaign by Putin to build a rationale for stealing a country. Despite 22 years of being fed false information, Russians have learned about the world. They have traveled, studied, worked and lived in an information age. We should not underestimate their knowledge or their understanding of propaganda.
Many say that Putin’s propaganda is not new. But in the last few months, Putin has moved from propaganda to a new form of public diplomacy — obfuscation. He has sought to confuse the world with conflicting statements about war and peace. He has sought to use the fog of war as a fog machine, hoping to cloud hearts and minds.
But cutting off information has short-term benefits and long-term harm. Ultimately, people want to know what is happening around them, and with trust in public institutions low, even in Russia, especially among young people, information will travel to individuals. Those brave Russians who took to the streets and were swept off the streets by police will be followed by more and more courageous souls for whom freedom of information matter.
Without support on the home front Putin cannot win…
“Putin has basically put himself on a plank. He has launched a military operation that he believed would take a few days and would be successful,” Volker said. “Anything but the case, his military is having a very hard time in Ukraine. They’ve lost thousands of soldiers, lots of equipment, and [are] having a hard time reconstituting their offensive. And they brought on massive sanctions against the Russian economy, which are going to hurt very, very deeply.”
Volker added that Putin’s “only way to stay in power is to pursue a military victory.”
But even if a military victory is in store for Putin, Russia’s future relationships with other countries remains increasingly isolated and unstable – and not only in the West. Foreign policy experts, including Volker, have noted strained tensions in recent weeks between Russia and its most significant ally, China, amid its invasion of Ukraine.
He’s on his back foot as it were…
Half measures are for the half-hearted. If President Biden and other democratic leaders around the world are really going to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his brutal invasion of Ukraine, then it’s time to apply the muscle needed to clip his power permanently and smash his ability to wreak destruction wherever he chooses.
The way to corral Putin is with robust energy sanctions that will raise prices even more and cause genuine hardship for millions outside of Russia—but pay off in the end. That should be combined with resolute but careful military support, including covert aid. Biden and the leaders of allied nations in Europe, Asia and elsewhere will have to explain coming sacrifices to their people and find ways to rally them if success isn’t quick.
Russia, meanwhile, has revealed some major weaknesses that must alarm Putin, if he’s sane. The most startling is a creaky army that can’t get the job done. Battlefield reports should always be viewed skeptically, yet there seem to be numerous instances in which the long Russia army columns heading toward the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and other cities are stuck for lack of fuel, food and spare parts. Some captured Russian conscripts say they thought they were going to training exercises rather than invading a neighboring country.
The mark of a professional military isn’t fancy weapons that shine in parades. It’s logistical competence under stress and discipline among troops who know what the mission is. Russia still has massive amounts of firepower in Ukraine and select units of elite troops, and could regroup. But some of its weaknesses are astonishing.
Three days after the beginning of hostilities I said, “This is going to go down as one of the worst military operations in history…”
Seems to me as if my ideas have become somewhat mainstream. Now, I’m just a lowly Private… I simply read obsessively. I’d never claim to be any kind of sage or military strategist… I’m not really an expert on any subject. My thing is reading and thinking… Usually too much I’m often told.
This morning I woke up with an idea… I don’t know if there’s a way to get from where we are now to the possible future I’m imagining, but I think I need to put it out there see what y’all think about it…
I think I see a possibility… an opportunity… for the UN, NATO, and President Biden to if not eliminate the nuclear threat posed by Russia, to at least reduce it substantially by forcing regime change in Russia.
I sure as hell hope the real strategists in Washington… at the Pentagon, at Langley, Fort Meade and the White House are thinking further ahead than this former Marine Corps Private.
Based on some recent comments, it appears I need to clarify the “idea.” Before I do I need to mention that I haven’t read every comment and story on the subject here at dKos, so I don’t know what others might have suggested.
My basic idea is that we need to quit trying to find an end game for Putin and quit trying to return to the pre-war status quo…
We need to think big and far ahead. We need to concentrate on a global end game where the population of this planet is never again threatened with nuclear annihilation.
Putin is putting his country in the exact same position it was in when the Soviet Union fell… A failed war, an army that is exposed as weak, and an economy in shambles.
Opportunities like this don’t present themselves often in history. We need to seize this moment and reach for the brass ring…
TOTAL NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.